I waited for two months to receive my ticket, but landing in Abu Dhabi, it felt like I had waited a day! It suddenly all felt so fast and surreal. Could this seriously be my life? I had to keep reminding myself that I was across the world and not just in Florida.
Once off the plane, we immediately found someone waiting for us. This was a huge relief, at least for me, as I was way too exhausted to have navigated the airport by myself. We were whisked off to get our eye scans and then shuffled through passport control. Then, we collected our luggage and were put onto a bus. Despite the quick pace, Maureen and I, of course, took time to take some pictures at the airport. I mean really, what is an adventure without pictures?
Stepping out of the airport was the oddest sensation I have had in a while. It felt like vacation, but it wasn't. Like I was dreaming, but I was awake. The air was a little brisk, but muggy. I was exhausted, but excited. I missed my old home but was looking forward to my new one. I missed my family, but already liked my new friends. A complete and total mishmash of emotions. It was an odd sensation, but an invigorating one as well!
Now that I was finally in Abu Dhabi, I really just wanted to sleep, having had only about 3-4 hrs rest in the last 36 hours. We checked into the hotel around 4 am or so, I did a quick Face Time with my mom and my sister, and then I slept.....for about 4 hours. I'm in Abu Dhabi people!! I needed to get up and explore even if I was dead tired! I got up, met a bunch of people from the group that had arrived a week prior to us, and enjoyed the free breakfast.
Maureen, Irma, and I joined up with some wonderful ladies from group A and they were kind enough to lead the way to the Madinat Zayed Souk. We took our first bus ride to get there and city friends, you'll get a kick out of this...it cost 1Dhs, which is equivalent to $.27!! Women ride in front. The men have to drop their coins in the front, then dash to one of the back doors to get into the back of the bus. If the women are smushed, the men are sardines! It seems comical at first, but then you just feel sorry for them.
Anyway, once at the souk, we hit the ATM, shopped for abayas (I wound up empty handed), and grabbed lunch. The lunch was delish, cost $8.44 (31Dhs), and was enough to bring home for dinner! I was also thrilled to get a sim card for my phone. There is something awful about not having a phone number! Even though my service didn't kick in until 24 hrs later, it works now, and I am so happy to have a phone. It has helped me find stores, make plans, and stay in touch with the other teachers here. I love my 4s! (Ok, ok, I'm done with my shameless Apple plug.)
We also took our first trip to Lulu, which is a chain that can be likened to Target or Walmart. They have everything you could possibly want and are pretty reasonably priced. Nina, one of the ladies from group A, introduced us to Shareeah, who has been here for several months now. She has been very helpful as far as providing information on what to get done before leaving, and what to expect once here. She is also the one who told us how to navigate Istanbul! She was so sweet and I hope to run into here again soon.
That was pretty much it for day 1. I can't believe that I ventured out as much as I did. I was really happy to get my feet wet and spend the day with such sweet people. I only hope that I can be as helpful to group C as group A has been to me! Inshallah!